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In actual operation, the S730 has its ups and downs. In good light and shooting subjects at normal ranges it performs reasonably well, focusing quickly and accurately and snapping away with a minimum of shutter lag and a shot-to-shot time of about three seconds, which is a little slow but not intolerably so. In continuous shooting mode it can manage approximately one frame a second, but annoyingly the monitor remains blank after the first shot, and the is no audio signal to indicate when successive shots are being taken, so it’s a bit hit-or-miss. The main problem is low-light shooting. It suffers from exactly the same problems as the L700, in that despite having a very bright AF assist lamp it refuses to focus at all most of the time, even with fairly high-contrast targets at medium range. This isn’t just in total darkness; the S730 has problems focusing in light you can read by.
Likewise picture quality has good points and bad. Overall detail and sharpness are very good indeed; in fact I would say that it produced better results than most of the other 7MP compacts I’ve reviewed recently. The lens doesn’t have the Schneider-Kreuznach label that most of Samsung’s high-end cameras bear, but it is very good nonetheless, producing good centre sharpness and minimal edge blurring. There was noticeable wide-angle spherical distortion, but no worse than most other 3x zoom compacts. However exposure control was imprecise, leading to some shots being slightly over-exposed, and the default colour saturation setting seemed a bit pale and washed out, although this can be adjusted. Noise control was very good up to 200 ISO and acceptable at 400 ISO, although the 800 and 1000 ISO settings would produce quite poor quality even as snapshot prints.
When used in good light and at low ISO settings, the Samsung S730 is a decent snapshot camera with good handling and performance, and a wider range of features than many budget compacts, but its very poor low light focusing means it will be of limited use in many social occasions. Build quality could also be better, but all in all not bad value for money.
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